Those days… you know those days.
Those days when, well, everything. (Do I need to spell this out?)
Those days when tantrums and baths and meal prep and cleanup and laundry and laundry and laundry and commitments and making a mommy meal and carpool and sheitel macher appointment and doctor appointment and dentist appointment and what were you thinking when you scheduled all these appointments back to back and cleanup and meal prep and laundry again and protest and kvetching and kickback and messy rooms and why did they just empty the basket of freshly folded laundry and you just don’t have TIIIIIIIIMMMEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
So you know those days?
When you just feel so overwhelmed, you feel like your brain will implode from the elephant dancing on your bedraggled snood?
So let me tell you something you may not know about that overwhelm:
It’s not coming from all those things
Overwhelm, contrary to what it seems, is not coming from all the things you have to do.
When we’re overwhelmed, it feels like everything is bearing down on us.
But in actuality, overwhelm is coming from inside our own heads.
No, that doesn’t mean it’s not real. No, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do all those things.
What it does mean is that the feeling of being overwhelmed is coming from your perception of the situation, NOT from the situation itself.
Now, I know when you’re overwhelmed it feels even more impossible to carve out some time to fix it, but think of it as sharpening a saw so you can more effectively cut down a tree: you lose some time in the short run, but save a whole lot of time in the grand scheme of things.
Step 1: Notice the overwhelm
When we’re living life, we usually get so caught up in our thoughts and feelings in the moment, so caught up in *living* them that we don’t actually notice that the overwhelm is there.
It’s like having music blasting at an event, having to yell just to talk — and then suddenly someone turns the music off and you realize just how hard it was to chat with your neighbor while it was running.
That’s what overwhelm is like.
So first: notice it. Be aware that it’s there.
Step 2: Notice the thoughts
Our view of reality (in this case: overwhelming) is always formed by the thoughts we have running round our heads.
Or, put another way: thoughts create feelings.
So that overwhelm has its roots in the thoughts we’re thinking.
Once you notice that overwhelm, notice the thoughts that are behind it. What are you believing about your situation that’s making you feel overwhelmed? What do you tell yourself? Which thoughts are running like a wild herd of horses around your head?
Remember that Hashem puts thoughts in our heads; they’ll always come. They always feel real, but often they’re not actually real.
What if this thought wasn’t actually real?
Be open to challenging that belief.
(I will note: this is a HUGE topic that I could talk about in a whole series of blog posts, so if it’s feeling confusing for you, that’s okay. Let me know in the comments if you want to clear something up!)
Step 3: Choose 1-3 things
So you’ve noticed that you’re overwhelmed. You’ve noticed that it’s coming from a thought or some thoughts, and you know (logically, at least) that those thoughts may not be real, but are coloring your perception of reality.
So now I want you to choose 1-3 bite-size things that you’ll actually accomplish.
Narrow down your list of “must-dos” (I’ve got a great tool for you on that in this blog post, if you can find a little more time!) to just 1, 2 or maybe 3. If it’s later in the day, only allow yourself one thing; if you have more time to accomplish, then 3 might be okay, but keep things manageable.
If those three things still feel overwhelming, then break them down into smaller tasks, or do fewer things.
The goal is to help you actually get things done instead of freezing or doing everything except what actually needs to get done.
As busy mothers, overwhelm is often part of the air we breathe, seems like an unavoidable fact of daily life.
But it doesn’t have to be.
So try these steps out, and tell me how it goes.